Emily Harris (centre) started the in-person Monarch Moms meet-up groups in July, when it was much easier to physical distance in outdoor spaces. Harris started the group as a source of connection for women navigating the ups and downs of having a baby during a pandemic. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)

Emily Harris (centre) started the in-person Monarch Moms meet-up groups in July, when it was much easier to physical distance in outdoor spaces. Harris started the group as a source of connection for women navigating the ups and downs of having a baby during a pandemic. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)

Victoria new mom group navigates challenges of motherhood in a pandemic

Monarch Moms meet once a week for physically-distanced connection

Rain came down sideways on a Tuesday morning as a group of new moms bounced babies on their laps inside a Fairfield dance studio.

This is one of the few indoor meetings the Monarch Mums group has had since the COVID-19 pandemic started, and only six women came, each physically distanced on colourful baby blankets in a large circle.

Over the babble of curious youngsters and rattling toys, the women shared their highs and lows of the week. From sleeping problems, prams, toys and puppies to hair loss, in-laws, postpartum depression and career jealousy – one woman shared her struggle to finish a manuscript and her resentment of her husband’s full-time work schedule – the group was vulnerable and open with one another.

One mom shared the ‘high’ that she finally told her husband of her postpartum depression. Another piped in how she was scared if people knew, they would take her baby away.

While 10-month-old Iain bounced on her hip, organizer Emily Harris, explained how the group has helped the new moms navigate an exceptionally difficult transition.

“Just being able to find that community of people in that same situation I think is vital to maintaining your own mental health,” she said.

“Everybody is so desperate for that connection. I can speak for myself that I just felt so lonely, like March [and] April were horrible. Those were the longest months of my life.”

READ ALSO: Pregnant in a pandemic: expectant mothers change birth plans due to COVID-19

(From left to right) Melissa Mouat and 12-week-old daughter Rosie and Roxanna Mohtadi and five-month-old daughter Melody discuss the joys and hardships of new motherhood during a pandemic at the weekly Monarch Moms meet-up. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)

The weekly meetings were born of a Facebook group.

“A lot of the talk going around in this online group was, ‘I feel so lonely, I really want to meet with people.’ I just sort of threw it out there if anyone would be interested,” Harris said.

The first meeting was at Hollywood Park and drew 18 moms and babies from across Greater Victoria. It was a physically-distanced success, Harris said. Since then the group has met at various parks every Monday morning.

Many members already had other children, but all of the moms had a baby in 2020 – except Harris, whose son was born on Christmas Day, 2019.

“The transition for a first-time baby is like jumping off a cliff,” Harris said. “Doing that during a pandemic is something else.”

Harris lamented the maternity leave she had envisioned for herself and her newborn – one that included art and music classes, family visits and time with friends.

“We are all there in some way. We may not necessarily be struggling with the same things but we all struggle. The beauty of being a part of this group is that some people are further along in their mental health journey and can be a source of support,” she said. “Honestly, sometimes you just need somebody to listen.”

Harris said winter weather might create hurdles for the group.

“One of the things that’s been a stressor for us is, where do we stand with our babies and COVID? And a lot of moms have a lot of anxiety about moving indoors. Which makes total sense,” she said. “Our next challenge is to find a place that’s covered and dry with that outdoor component.”

READ ALSO: Sooke mom faces ‘pandemic police’ for bringing kids to the grocery store

Stephanie Anderson and her eight-month-old daughter Eva enjoy physical-distanced connections with other new moms at the weekly Monarch Moms meet-up group. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)


Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email: nina.grossman@blackpress.ca. Follow us on Instagram.
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

CoronavirusGreater VictoriaVictoria

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The realignment of Highway 14 between Connie and Glinz Lake roads in Sooke will take more than a year to complete. (File - Sooke News Mirror)
The realignment of Highway 14 between Connie and Glinz Lake roads in Sooke will take more than a year to complete. (Kevin Laird - Sooke News Mirror)
Patience requested from drivers as work begins on realignment of Highway 14 in Sooke

Construction between Connie and Glinz Lake roads expected to take 1½ years

Victoria-Swan Lake MLA Rob Fleming moves to the role of transportation minister in the NDP’s new cabinet. (B.C. government file photo)
Greater Victoria MLAs claim key roles in new cabinet

Transportation, Indigenous relations, children and family development ministries headed by locals

Karl Ablack, chair of the Port Renfrew Recovery Task Force, says visitors should steer clear of the community after the second wave of COVID has begun to hit across the province. (Black Press Media file photo)
Port Renfrew, Pacheedaht First Nation asks visitors to steer clear of community again

Tight-knit community of 400 has yet to report single case of COVID

Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes delivers the inaugural address at council’s swearing-in ceremony in November 2018. The ceremony included blessings from representatives of two Christian churches. (Black Press Media file photo)
Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes delivers the inaugural address at council’s swearing-in ceremony in November, 2018. The ceremony included blessings from representatives of two Christian churches – a fact highlighted in a report released by the BC Humanist Associaton on Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
Christian-based prayer at inaugural Vancouver Island council meetings violates court ruling

Blessings violate Supreme Court decision that prayer in council is discriminatory

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry update the COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Nov. 23, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. sets another COVID-19 record with 887 new cases

Another 13 deaths, ties the highest three days ago

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Nov. 24

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

The Klahoose First Nation village on Cortes Island is under lockdown until further notice due to a positive COVID-19 test. Photo courtesy Kevin Peacey.
Cortes Island First Nation community locked down due to positive COVID-19 test

Klahoose First Nation has had one positive test, one other potential case

Ladysmith’s 1st Avenue will be lit up until January 15. (Cole Schisler photo)
Light Up parade a no-go, but Ladysmith’s streets are still all aglow

Although the tradition Light Up this year was cancelled, folks can still enjoy the holiday lights

The baby boy born to Gillian and Dave McIntosh of Abbotsford was released from hospital on Wednesday (Nov. 25) while Gillian continues to fight for her life after being diagnosed with COVID-19.
Abbotsford mom with COVID-19 still fighting for life while newborn baby comes home

Son was delivered Nov. 10 while Gillian McIntosh was in an induced coma

Gracie couldn’t stop nursing from her previous owner’s goats which was problematic given the goats were trying to be dried out to breed. Gracie now lives at A Home for Hooves. (Sarah Simpson/Citizen)
Cowichan animal sanctuary gets international accreditation

A Home for Hooves farm sanctuary accredited by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries

North Island-Powell River MP Rachel Blaney has spoken out about some veterans losing their Dimished Earning Capacity income. (Mike Davies/Campbell River Mirror photo)
Blaney pens letter to minister about veteran supports

Concerned about veterans losing some income

B.C. Premier John Horgan, a Star Trek fan, can’t resist a Vulcan salute as he takes the oath of office for a second term in Victoria, Nov. 26, 2020. (B.C. government)
Horgan names 20-member cabinet with same pandemic team

New faces in education, finance, economic recovery

The corporate headquarters of Pfizer Canada are seen in Montreal, Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. The chief medical adviser at Health Canada says Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine could be approved in Canada next month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Health Canada expects first COVID-19 vaccine to be approved next month

Canada has a purchase deal to buy at least 20 million doses of Pfizer’s vaccine,

Most Read